It’s coming up on one year since I went to Beirut, Lebanon and I realized I haven’t done a proper wrap-up post. It’s actually kind of nice to have some time and perspective on the trip. So much has happened since last summer and so much had happened leading up to it. It is really amazing.
I had just left the church in Peoria after a dizzying chain of events that I still can’t quite explain. We saw God do amazing things most notably by selling our two-month-old house in four days for more than we paid for it. He really wanted us out of there! But we didn’t know where to go. No job, no house, no prospects, really. So Olivia’s Dad, Keith Curlee, felt like the Lord wanted him to take me to Beirut on his next trip. He has a ministry there (Triumphant Mercy Lebanon) that partners with local believers. In 2007 they opened a prayer and worship center in a mall called the Tent of Praise, or TOP. We went for a month and stayed with the family that leads the TOP and ministered with the precious people there.
It was great to just be a part of what God is doing in the Middle East. I played bass in the worship times (I had never done that before — they were short a bass player), I spoke at the youth meetings, and conducted some music clinics on songwriting, playing, etc. I was even honored to lead worship one night at the TOP (in English, of course :). I got to experience a lot of the Lebanese culture (you can look back at the older posts for stories).
What struck me the most was the power of the Holy Spirit to make vast cultural differences so insignificant. When it came down to it, we were brothers and sisters in the Lord and that made us fast friends. We still keep up with each other on Facebook and I hope I get the opportunity to go back. When I think about Lebanon, I get a strange feeling that I’ve struggled to define. Like any “mission trip,” there is great spiritual fire that happens and you long to be back in that place of seeing God use you and seeing people’s live changed in amazing ways. But this is deeper – the Cedars have a strong effect on you.
New Songs, Nations, Young People
I wrote these down before I left. I felt that these words summed up what God had shown me in Lebanon. In fact, I’ve already seen the fruit of them here in NYC.
Nations – There is no other city in the world that has so many nations represented and living together. The nations are truly represented here. I believe that’s one of the things God has placed on my heart – to reach out to the nations; to minister His power in different cultures. To not only help bring change to the nations, but to be changed by the nations.
New Songs – Since I’ve come to New York I’ve written more songs in a short time than at any other time since I started writing songs. I’ve probably written twenty or thirty this year. Not all of them are keepers, of course, but I have been overwhelmed by the inspiration. Many are spiritual/worship in nature, but many are just about life and relationships. In Lebanon, I feel the Lord cemented the fact that I am a writer of songs by allowing me to teach others how to do it.
Young People – I remember a prophecy I received at IHOP back in 2007. The guy said that the Lord was fascinated at how I loved young people. This struck a chord with me because I do. I feel God has given me a heart for the young. To see them go further in their gifts and further in their relationship with Him. I haven’t seen as much fruition of that yet, but my awareness is surely up. I’m waiting for God to bring opportunities to work with and encourage young people.
So, that’s just a few of the impressions and insights the Lord gave me in Lebanon and since. I’m even more thankful than last year that Triumphant Mercy paid for me to go (not an inexpensive endeavor) and that I got to be a part of something much larger than me: God moving in the Middle East.